by Raffaele Crocco

Africa is a key Continent in the world game being played by ‘pro-Americans’ and ‘anti-Americans’ to gain space and resources. In just over two years, ten coups d’état have been attempted. Some of them have successfully brought to power young soldiers, especially in the central part of the continent, who in some way represent an African neo-nationalism that demands identity and freedom of choice. Chad could now be added to the list.

News agencies speak of a country in chaos at the moment. Yaya Dillo, the leader of the opposition, is said to have organised a military attack on the National Agency for State Security, in practice the Secret Service. The attack was reportedly repelled by forces loyal to President Idriss Déby, but the dead are still being counted in the streets of the capital, N’Djamena. The website Tchad One writes that the headquarters of Dillo’s political party was allegedly bombed by Chadian forces, possibly killing the opposition leader himself.

The situation seems confusing, but it would be yet another attempt at change in an Africa that is increasingly central to the clash between the contenders for world government. Too interesting is a continent that is still growing demographically – the only one at the moment – and that has minerals that are fundamental to industry and vast areas of land that are still potentially cultivable: so in Africa, as here, war is fought by proxy. Through the use of mercenaries as well. For the inhabitants of African countries at least, the presence of Russian Wagner’s men – now restructured after the never-clarified death of its founder, Yevgeny Prigozhin – is well established, well known and tragic. Russian mercenaries are certainly present in Mali, Niger and the Central African Republic. But something is changing.

In recent months, men from Bancroft Global Development have arrived. Officially, this is a demining company founded in 1999 by Michael Stock and based in Washington. Its official business is to provide training and capacity-building in regions torn apart by armed conflict. In reality, international intelligence agencies declare that the group’s soldiers are mercenaries, ready to intervene in the Central African Republic to oust Wagner’s soldiers. In July 2023, Bancroft reached an agreement with the government. This would be a ‘changing of the guard’ unwelcome to Moscow, which is trying to persuade African countries in the region to abandon the use of dollars or euros in international trade.

It is a complex picture and one that ties in with the tragedy in Gaza. While the international dance of powers and the armed deployment of supporters continues, the civilian death toll has reached frightening figures. There are reports of at least 30,000 dead, almost half of them children. The United Nations, increasingly impotent politically but still potentially formidable in humanitarian action, reports that food and medicine continue to be blocked at the crossings into Gaza. For the first time this week, some supplies have been parachuted in. Meanwhile, as negotiations continue over a possible ceasefire in Gaza, representatives of the various Palestinian political factions are in Moscow to discuss a national unity government that could govern the post-war period. Fatah, Hamas, Islamic Jihad and at least ten other political groups are sitting around a table to decide what to do. A meeting place is being sought, but creating a technical government backed by Hamas is feared to be internationally boycotted.

Putin seems to be playing the wise man with the Palestinian tragedy, but in the meantime, he is closing the doors to any negotiations with Ukraine. There is no talk of peace 737 days after the invasion. “There is no possibility of negotiations at the moment,” said Ukrainian Vice-Premier Irina Vereshchuk, adding that her country does not lack soldiers, but weapons to stop Russia. In short, peace is a long way off and Russia seems to be in trouble anyway, at least at the regional political level. Under Kremlin pressure, there were fears this week of Moldova’s break-up, with an official request for help and annexation by Transnistria, the self-proclaimed pro-Russian separatist entity that has been on Moldovan territory for 30 years. In reality, it was a general call for protection, a blow to the propaganda campaign the Kremlin has been running in recent weeks.

On the other front, Kyiv and President Volodymyr Zelenskyy have problems with Poland. Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk has raised the possibility of a ‘temporary closure’ of the border with Ukraine for the transit of goods. Cheap Ukrainian wheat is the bone of contention. Polish farmers have been demanding tariffs for months. For now, the solution is to close the border.